Archive by Author

Quick Smoke: Heritage 1492 Nicaragua Toro

1 May 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Heritage 1492

This cigar opens with a blast of jalapeño pepper before settling down with some sweetness, earth, and rich tobacco. Rolled by Oliva for GMD Group (which supplied my samples), the double-banded Toro (6 x 50) is sharply box-pressed and exquisitely constructed. It burns perfectly, produces lots of smoke, and has an excellent draw. The wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano with Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. One drawback is the price, which lists at $14, though I’ve seen it advertised online for as low as $9. If you’re a fan of Nicaraguan tobacco, it’s one to try.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Pyramid

30 Apr 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

JC

Released to celebrate J.C. Newman’s founder, this Diamond Crown extension is a medium-strength, tasty cigar. Few details are released—the smooth, oily wrapper is labeled Ecuadorian Havana-seed and the other tobaccos called simply Central American. My guess—based on spices reminiscent of some Opus smokes—is a high proportion of Dominican filler. Like all Diamond Crowns, the Julius Caeser carries a high price tag. The Pyramid (6.5 x 52) retails between $16 and $20. I thoroughly enjoyed it with one caveat: The draw was a bit constricted and smoke production a little limited. But I would say this is one to consider when you want a celebratory stick.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Hoyo by Hoyo de Monterrey Robusto

27 Apr 2016

Long a General Cigar staple, Hoyo de Monterrey is the latest offering to receive a makeover. This time, the overhaul comes via a new line inspired by an earlier limited edition. The cigar even sports a different, shorter name—simply Hoyo—and, as you’d expect, modern bands, boxes, and promotion.

HoyoInterestingly, the new Hoyo was touted in a press release by General’s vice president of marketing, Alan Willner, rather than a cigar blender.

Hoyo is being offered to tobacconists in four sizes: Rothschild (4.5 x 50), Robusto (5 x 54), Toro (6 x 50), and Gigante (6 x 60). For this review, General provided me with a five-pack of the Robustos, which carry an individual MSRP of $6.59.

The tobaccos used in Hoyo reflect the blend from last year’s Hoyo Edición de Cumpleaños 150 limited edition that celebrated the 150th anniversary of the original Cuban Hoyo de Monterrey.

That cigar features a proprietary wrapper leaf called Estelí Habano Shade, which has been fermented longer and applied to the new Hoyo. It is thick and oily with little pre-light aroma. Under an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder is a filler mix of Pennsylvania ligero along with Nicaraguan tobacco from Estelí and Ometepe.

I found excellent construction, draw, and burn in each of the samples. Smoke production was top-flight. The cigars are densely packed, and a slow burn makes the fat Robusto last longer than many larger cigars.

For me, there’s often a fine line between peppery and harsh. Sometimes it shows up in a back-of-the-throat bite, sometimes in a lingering, coarse finish. With the Hoyo Robusto, it seems to show up in both, especially during the first inch or so.

The harshness backs down somewhat in the second half, with burned coffee and tobacco sweetness coming to the fore. Overall, though, there isn’t much development throughout the five-inch smoke.

While it’s nice to see a major cigar maker reexamine long-time brands, it can sometimes feel like they’re trying too hard to emulate their boutique competitors. With Hoyo, General has produced a perfectly acceptable cigar, but one that seems a bit heavier on the sizzle than on the steak.

On the other hand, with its reasonable price and excellent combustion properties that are characteristic of General Cigar, I’d recommend giving it a try. As for rating, I give the Hoyo Robusto three stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Davidoff Nicaragua Short Corona

18 Apr 2016

The spicy start from this cigar comes quicker and stronger than other vitolas I’ve smoked in this line. Of course, when a cigar is only 3.75 inches, starting fast is nearly a requirement.

Davidoff Nicaragua (1)That wasn’t the only difference that struck me as I smoked through a five-pack of Davidoff Nicaragua Short Coronas I’d bought for about $50 last summer. There was less change throughout—again, not unexpected. In the Robusto, for example, I found the spice to lower in intensity at about the halfway point, especially as coffee became more prominent. Not so here; spice continued pretty much as it began, with the coffee maintaining a moderate level.

Other flavors I noticed were chocolate, wood, and the earthy, musty note that seems to be a part of Davidoff’s DNA. The Short Corona finish was velvet smooth, another common Davidoff characteristic.

I drank coffee while smoking a couple, and it was an excellent pairing.

For such a small smoke (the ring gauge is 46), the draw was perfect, as was the burn throughout. Smoke production rivaled that of a much larger stick.

These Nicaraguan puros were introduced by Davidoff in 2013. Originally released in three vitolas, there are now six, including two box-pressed versions and a Diadima.

The wrapper is a ten-year-old Havana-seed rosado, the binder from Jalapa, and the filler a mixture of leaves from Nicaragua’s tobacco growing regions of Estelí, Condega, and Ometepe. Despite the tobacco composition, the cigars are rolled at Davidoff’s Dominican factory.

While a bit late to the Nicaragua tobacco fest, Davidoff knew what to do when it arrived. Our earlier reviews of the Robusto and the Toro each earned four stogies.

When the Nicaragua line was announced, Davidoff said it was part of the company’s goal of bringing “delightful experiences” to cigar smokers. I believe they did just that with the Short Corona, and I, too, give this smoke four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Eiroa Classic Prensado

17 Apr 2016

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Eiroa Prensado

This little Honduran puro was Cigar Journal’s pick for top cigar of 2015, and it’s easy to see why. Christian Eiroa’s eponymous smoke opens with a peppery burst that gives way to leather and sweetness. Numerous other flavors follow in a blend that’s smooth and balanced from start to finish. The lightly pressed Prensado (4 x 48) smokes like a dream, burning slowly and evenly with a near-perfect draw. The only drawback would be the price, which runs about $10. But for anyone wanting to sample the best of Honduras, this is a stick to smoke.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar News: Davidoff to Make Major Cuts to Its Lines

11 Apr 2016

Davidoff-both-2015-IPCPR

In a major realignment of its cigars, Davidoff is discontinuing 19 vitolas, including two complete lines, across what it calls its “Core Pillar.”

The cuts are likely to be followed by the announcement of new Davidoff releases.

The lines being eliminated are Puro d’Oro, an eight-vitola offering, and the three-vitola Maduro line that dates to 2008.

Also on the chopping block are No. 1 and No. 3 from the Davidoff Classic Series; Grand Cru No. 1 and No. 4; the No. 1 and No. 2 Aniversarios; and the Lonsdale and Lancero Millenium Blend vitolas.

Overall, the Core Pillar will consist of four lines offered in 20 formats after the cuts are completed. Factory production of the discontinued cigars will shut down at mid-year, though Davidoff retailers will continue to sell on-hand stock at regular prices.

Davidoff said there will be no changes to any of its blends.

The information came via email from the office of Orianne Labrick, Davidoff’s Global Brand Manager in Switzerland.

According to Davidoff, choosing the cigars to eliminate was a careful process. For example, while two Aniversarios were eliminated, the highly popular Aniversario No. 3 was retained.

Among the cigars being dropped were some that “felt a bit outdated,” with the changes providing “new opportunities to launch product innovations,” according to Davidoff.

Davidoff hinted that those innovations might include large ring-gauge smokes, as the company noted it plans to introduce “more modern cigar formats that were missing” from its existing portfolio. (The cuts involving Puro d’Oro and Aniversario were first reported by Halfwheel.)

This move comes amid a flurry of recent activity by Davidoff. The company unveiled a third retail shop in Manhattan, followed by its largest store, which opened earlier this year in Tampa. Other U.S. shops are planned.

Davidoff also recently added new vitolas to Nicaragua, and last year introduced Escurio, both of which it calls “Discovery” lines. The “Iconic” Winston Churchill line was revamped earlier, as was Davidoff’s Avo brand.

No changes are planned for the Discovery or Iconic lines.

Puro d’Oro was introduced to great fanfare in 2010. The Dominican puro, with its Yamasá wrapper developed by master blender Henke Kelner, was heavily advertised. The line also featured the fattest Davidoff, called Gordito (3.75 x 58), which was released about three years ago.

Some of the cigars being cut have been highly rated at StogieGuys.com. The Grand Cru No. 4, for example, was a five-stogie smoke two years ago.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Casa Fernandez Aniversario Miami 2015 Corojo Toro

4 Apr 2016

Miami Box

To say I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with this cigar would be too extreme. It’s more aptly described as severely irritated-very pleased.

MiamiYou see, I’ve smoked half of the ten cigars in the box I bought late last year. Four of them have had construction issues. Two had poor draws, one so tight I could barely smoke it. One had a fairly significant tunnel through about half the cigar, while the wrapper on another began to unravel less than a third of the way into the stick. One of the five smoked just fine.

All were tasty cigars, the kind of complex, balanced smokes I’ve experienced before from Casa Fernandez and its showcase Aganorsa tobacco. But it is hard to truly enjoy a cigar when you’re dealing with such interference.

As for what happened, I can only guess. I don’t believe my storage was the cause because nothing has changed in my humidor, and I haven’t encountered similar problems with other cigars. I don’t recall problems smoking other Casa Fernandez lines, so I find it hard to believe it’s an endemic situation.

No, I think I was just unlucky. Cigars, despite the best efforts at quality control, sometimes simply don’t measure up. In my case, I think I just ended up with a bad box, nothing more. Perhaps I’ll be fortunate and find the remaining five all perform perfectly.

As for the flavors, the Aniversario Miami 2015 Corojo Toro (6 x 56) is excellent. Pepper is dominant at the start, though it quickly goes to the background as a rich, thick sweetness moves to the front. Along the way I encountered roasted nuts, floral notes, and wood.

The wrapper is an Aganorsa Corojo ’99 with Nicaraguan filler. The cigar retails for about $12 a stick, a bit less by the box.

Obviously, it’s difficult to rate a cigar after so many problems. I considered waiting until I had smoked them all, but would it really matter if it ended up 5-5 or 6-4 or 4-6?

The bottom line is that I liked the flavors of the cigar very much, but the overall experience was lacking. I can only hope that my box was, as I said, an anomaly. Nonetheless, I can give this Casa Fernandez only three stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys